WASHINGTON DC —
Zimbabwe has designated more white-owned farms for compulsory acquisition despite recent assurances by Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa that the remaining 200 or so white commercial farms would be spared from the government's controversial land reform program.
Last year President Robert Mugabe told a meeting to launch the A1 Model Settlement Tenure Permits in Mashonaland West that whites should not own land in Zimbabwe.
“We say no to whites owning our land and they should go. Don’t be too kind to white farmers. Land is yours, not theirs,” he said then.
However, his deputy, Mnangagwa, sang a different tune while addressing party supporters at a rally in Masvingo’s Mucheke Stadium soon after the enshrinement of a train station which was turned into a national monument.
The station was bombed by Mnangagwa during the liberation struggle in 1962 destroying a locomotive.
“There are pockets of farms here and there which are still in the hands of white farmers because people supposed to take them did not take them,” Mnangagwa said.
He added that there were a select few white farmers who were going to be given offer letters to run the farms.
The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union says most of the farms that have been earmarked for acquisition are in Matabeleland South.
Land reforms began around 2000 as a protest by landless indigenous blacks who invaded white-owned farms at the behest of the government.
Although the government said the protests were intended to alter the ethnic balance of land ownership, critics saw it as an entrenchment of power by the ruling elite which was losing popularity.
ZCFU chief executive officer, Hendriek Olivier, told Studio Seven the latest designation does not make sense.
He says most of the farms that have been targeted for compulsory acquisition are not suitable for crop farming but ranching, adding this will further worsen the country's food shortages.